Bhubaneswar, 13 December 2014: Pakistan grabbed a narrow 4-3 win over India to qualify for Sunday’s final of the Hero Men’s Champions Trophy in Bhubaneswar thanks to a late strike from Muhammad Irfan. India now play off for the Bronze medal against world champions Australia who lost their semi-final 3-2 to Germany. Pakistan started with Muhammad Dilber drawing a fine save from PR Sreejesh while Muhammad Umar Bhutta’s effort slipped just past the post.
But India replied in kind and went 1-0 up when Sardar Singh took a quick free from Nikkin Thimmaiah to win the game’s opening penalty corner. Gurjinder Singh fired home low for 1-0. Pakistan used their video referral on this decision but the goal was confirmed by the video umpire which got the party started in the packed Kalinga Stadium. Muhammad Rizwan Senior let slide another huge chance for Pakistan but they did get back on terms when Muhammad Arslan Qadir got a brilliant touch to Ammad Shakeel Butt ‘s cross to make it 1-1, ramping the ball into the roof of the net to silence the crowd.
The third quarter saw Qadir’s cross being tipped in by Muhammad Waqas to put Pakistan ahead 2-1 when both teams were reduced to ten players after yellow card suspensions. India failed to strike back a short moment later when VR Raghunat’s penalty corner attempts went wide. Syed Shah’s penalty corner goal lifted Pakistan’s total to 3 but the host nation fought back. Thimmaiah brought the crowd back to live when he finished Akasdeep’s effort with a terrific goal hammering the ball in from the circle line making it 3-2.
Dharamvir Singh equalised with 16 minutes remaining but Irfan sealed the victory with his goal before the final whistle.
Speaking on the win Pakistan Coach, Sheikh Shahnaz said “The last when we reached the Champions Trophy finals was in 1998 where we played against the Netherlands and we lost that game and I was the coach of that team too. Today again my team has reached the finals and it’s a proud moment. Germany was almost in the same condition in the Pool phase as us and today we both are in the finals. The German team is very strong with its strategies and we are aware of it and will work on it accordingly.”
Speaking during the press conference, High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans said “It was a disappointing game today. We had more goal scoring chances, but could not convert them. Timing between the players and the strategy was a problem in the first two quarters of the game but the team got better in the last two quarters. We have made mistakes and we still are in a learning process as we know that we are not playing at the top level. This match is over now and we have to recover as quickly as possible, take forward the positives and use it in our next match, for the bronze medal.”